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The Stolpersteine (‘stumbling stones’) memorial project commemorates victims of Nazi violence and the Holocaust through an individual marker installed outside the last willing residence before deportation and execution. The Stolpersteine project has spread throughout Europe, providing an urban topography of sites where traumatic events occurred. Because Stolpersteine are placed in public streets, they create performance possibilities, inviting passing pedestrians to engage in past history and trauma. As the project grows throughout Europe, however, the universality of the stones abuts with the specificity of local history and memory. This article considers the Stolpersteine installed in the Catalan city of Manresa. These stones, representing twenty-eight Spanish Republicans who were interned at the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, are framed by a Catalan-language audio guide that directly points to the collaboration of the Francisco Franco dictatorship with Nazi Germany. In so doing, the stones in Spain also stand for violence meted out during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship.
Digital-audio performance walks can be powerful performances, responding to troubling pasts, giving voice to testimony, and creating an affective geography that satisfies a participant's desire to connect with the city rather than just walk through it. Yet digital-audio performance walks also raise questions about performance and voyeurism, and the disconnection of private headphone experience, alongside issues of agency, detachment and appropriation. This article addresses key issues associated with digital-audio performance walks, using two case studies of performance walks (from Israel and Ireland), that aim to communicate politically charged and painful histories, which are at once ‘now’ and ‘then’, ‘here’ and ‘there’. The article considers some of the risks in digital-audio performance walks: dark tourism, privatization and empathic quietism. Finally, the article assesses what creative strategies are available to creators – and audiences – to make collaborative performance walks that galvanize spectators to become active witnesses.
We Are All Treaty People is a Canadian play for young audiences (ages eight to twelve) that addresses difficult knowledge, Elders’ story sharing, and contemporary and historical Indigenous–settler relations. This article discusses the contemporary and historical political context of the play and its production, the creation process and its narrative anchors. It argues that through a respectful, Indigenous-led creation process, and structural techniques, the play has the potential to offer hope and healing, and encourage relationships based on knowledge.
During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, two Kosovo-born Swiss players stirred controversy when they flashed a double-headed eagle gesture during a contentious win over Serbia. The gesture was an assertion of ethnic Albanian pre-eminence in Kosovo and a rhetorical strike against the Serbians, who still claim ownership over Kosovo even ten years after its declaration of independence. The gesture sparked worldwide media coverage and prompted punishments by FIFA (the World Cup's governing body), which legislates against overt political expression during matches. In this article, I will examine the double-headed eagle gesture as an example of the body's unique capacity to perform multiple political interventions at once. Not only did it transmit a contentious history, it also undermined the anti-political boundaries erected around the scenarios of transnational combat engendered by FIFA, highlighted anti-immigrant sentiments still festering across Europe, and illustrated the communicative powers that elite players can access through their goal celebrations. Considering these valences supports my reading of this case as symbolic of the sort of ruptures produced by competing impulses operating in Europe today, one working for the affirmation of the union, the other for its dissolution.
In her 2017 show Nanette, Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby announced that she was quitting comedy. In the show, Gadsby argued that as a marginalized person – a gender-nonconforming lesbian from rural Tasmania – she was doing herself a disservice when she invited audiences to laugh at her trademark self-deprecating humour. Gadsby framed her decision to quit comedy partly as a problem of persona: her practice as a comedian was to take actual, sometimes traumatic, events from her life and turn them into jokes, which she described as ‘half-told stories’. So framed, the problem with Gadsby's comic persona is the way it both presents and truncates her traumatic experience. When she refuses to be funny, Gadsby casts herself as something like Sara Ahmed's ‘feminist killjoy’, a spoilsport figure whose unhappiness positions her as a source of tension. In this article I consider how Gadsby's decision to quit comedy, and the terms in which she articulates that decision in Nanette, can help us think about varied modes of humourlessness and comic possibility.